Lowdown: Book sized science fiction comics.
The Stars My Destination is one of those books that everyone who is into science fiction will list as one of the all time classics. I, however, didn't like it that much when I read it as a teen: I found it thrilling and interesting, but not that moving. I did, however, wanted to give it a second chance. Turns out my teen notions still apply today, for a change.
The story takes place during the 25th century or so. By then it was discovered that people can do all sorts of things if they set their minds to it: almost everyone can teleport themselves, and some can even read others' minds or transmit telepathically. People's ability to teleport means that economic practices that used to work for thousands of years no longer apply, and war breaks within the solar system as a result.
Gully Foyle, the book's hero, is one of this war's victims: the book starts with him stranded on his severely hit spaceship, totally helpless but for his will to survive. A friendly spaceship passes by and sees him, yet it doesn't stop to rescue him; Foyle becomes so angry that he makes it his life's quest to rescue himself and seek vengeance. He sets his will power to it, becomes a MacGyver, and goes on a major vendetta rampage.
There is no doubt The Stars My Destination is a thrilling book. It keeps you on your toes and you want to read ahead to see what happens to Foyle as the plot thickens. However, thrill alone does not make a book great (otherwise crap like Da Vinci Code would be the ultimate book ever). There is also no doubt that the book paints an interesting and a very cynical version of the world as a world controlled by companies and brand names, a world in which anything goes if it serves those with the power and the money: you can definitely see how this vision applies to today's corporate led world. And the statements the book makes on how far people can go if they set their minds on something and how far we can go if we expand our horizons and use our imaginations are also fairly interesting.
All that said, I cannot say I think The Stars My Destination is a good book. I think a lot of it is Neil Gaiman's fault: in the book's introduction that he wrote, Geiman says that Alfred Bester turned to become a comics artist after writing the book; the result was that throughout reading the book I couldn't help but feel how well it all fits into a comics framework. I was, in effect, quite distracted.
But there is more to my lack of satisfaction with the book than comics. I think it comes down to the book not having much to say other than delivering its thrilling plot. I mean, it does touch some interesting subjects, as I mention above; but their treatment is rather superficial as Bester just browses by them. You sort of feel it's a waste for him to create this world and leave it with so much unfulfilled potential. And then there's the book's ending, which feels like it was written on drugs; but I won't go too far into that, as I don't want to ruin the experience.
Overall: The book hasn't aged but I wouldn't call it a classic. 3 stars.